Ray Jones, a military veteran and author who returned to Somervell County last year — after 30 years away — is gathering signatures for a petition that he hopes will lead to alcoholic beverages being sold in the county without the requirement of club memberships.
Jones had tried to get enough names to submit the petition last year, but that first attempt fell short.
The Glen Rose Reporter submitted some questions to Jones via email about the issue so that he could explain his perspective about what it entails and what it could mean in the future.
Jones, now a local real estate agent, said that anyone interested in learning more, or in signing the petition, can come by Century 21 Quad J Realty, at 1305 NE Big Bend in Glen Rose (hours, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.).
Here are the questions and his answers, in a Q & A format:
Q: When did you first have the idea to start that first petition a year or more back, and why?
A: I moved back from Copperas Cove in April of last year. While living in Copperas Cove, I helped some locals there with a similar petition. A friend of mine in Copperas Cove had done a bit of research and estimated the town was losing more than $1 million per month in tax revenue as folks would drive to neighboring towns to acquire their alcohol. The next town over (Killeen) is a wet town which is only 10 minutes away. Losing that kind of revenue didn’t seem to make sense there and it doesn’t make sense here in Glen Rose. For me, its more about the tax revenue than the alcohol.
Because alcohol is served in some of the local restaurants, folks tend to believe Glen Rose doesn’t lose out, however that’s not true. Currently, the means by which the local restaurants sell liquor is by the ‘club membership’ loophole whereas a local establishment doesn’t ‘own’ the alcohol (beer, wine, liquor, etc.). These beverages are owned by the members of club and they pay the establishment to manage the alcohol. There is a 14% sales tax on liquor and mixed drinks. All tax revenue (less 2% sales tax) including the membership fees are managed by the state and are sent to the state meaning that tax revenue is lost locally.
Q: What types of alcohol are included in your petition effort?
A: The petition is for the sale of all alcohol beverages including mixed drinks. Q: Is this something that could have a positive impact on the local economy?
A: I have it on good authority there are several national restaurant, hotel, and other chains sitting on the sidelines waiting for Glen Rose to turn into a wet community. As soon as this petition is approved and voted into effect we could see a surge of economic growth meaning more and better paying jobs locally. Communities, much like businesses, are prosperous creatures.
Either (they’re) growing or dying. There really isn’t a third option. Some local folks have communicated they’d like Glen Rose to remain the same. I believe this is an impossibility. I left 30 years ago, things have changed. Whether wanted or not, things always change. I believe this is a positive change as it will bring new investment into our community.
Consider what happened to Walnut Springs one hundred years ago. Back then a railroad station was located there. The population was almost three times that of Glen Rose. Eventually, the railroads were replaced by highways and Walnut Springs weathered away taking almost 60 years to begin a recovery.
They still haven’t achieved their 1920 numbers. The same can happen here.
Q: How many residents have to sign your petition for anything to go forward, and what is the deadline for you to get that completed? What are the requirements for a signature to be valid?
A: I need 35% of the last gubernatorial election (2018) which equates to about 1,300 signatures here in Glen Rose. I have until April 7, 2020 this year to acquire these signatures. Last year I was able to muster a little over 400.
This year, we’ve had more time to plan and coordinate so I believe our chances are improved. The only criteria for signing the petition are being a resident of Somervell County and being registered to vote. There is a misconception an individual needs to be 21, however this is false. If your able to vote in Somervell you’re eligible to sign.
Q: When you have gathered all your petition names, who do you submit that to, and what would happen after that?
A: Once all the petition names have been gathered, the next step is turning the petitions into the county elections administrator (Christy Covey) who then certifies the names on the petition are valid registered voters in Somervell County. Next, the petition is passed to the County Commissioners Court for approval. After approval, the Commissioner’s order the measure to be voted on in the November election. After the election, the County Clerk will notify the Secretary of State and TABC of the results. Finally, after the Commissioner’s Court canvass the election results the measure is passed and it will be legal to
(sell) alcohol in Somervell County. Q: If the county eventually votes in favor of this, what would that mean as far as changes in the way people will be able to consume alcohol?
The nature of the changes locally is assumed to be negligible, however in other counties across Texas and the Country where the sale of alcohol was legalized most saw a drastic decrease in the alcohol related incidents. Most notably DUIs and DWIs as folks will normally have a shorter distance to travel to purchase the alcohol they choose to consume. The local restaurants and other establishments that sell alcohol will have to apply to TABC to sell alcohol and will no longer track nor pay for members to consume alcohol. I’ve
been told there is a lot less paperwork and bureaucracy involved in the sale of alcohol.